THIS STORY HAS BEEN FORMATTED FOR EASY PRINTING
THE CAR DOCTOR

Tighten oil filter, but never too much

Plus: Unnecessary service, broken Ford spring

By John Paul
Boston.com Columnist / May 26, 2009

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Q. My 1992 Honda Accord leaks oil from the oil filter. I have replaced the filter twice, but it still leaks. Can you help me out with this problem?

A. Most oil filter leaks are caused by contamination or over tightening of the oil filter. When replacing the filter, inspect the threads and wipe off the seat on the engine block. Apply a light coat of oil to the rubber seal. Honda filters actually have a special method to correctly tighten the filter. There is a series of numbers on the filter. Note what number lines up when the filter seats against the block, then turn it clockwise 7 numbers from the one you noted. This procedure demonstrates how critical it is not to over or under tighten the oil filter.

Q. I recently went into a local repair shop which I like very much – mostly because they are convenient – but every time I go in they want to perform more services than I've requested. The last time they recommended a transmission fluid flush. I have a 2007 Toyota RAV4; does the fluid need to be flushed?

A. A repair shop that looks over your vehicle for problems is doing a good deed and should be valued. A repair shop that oversells unnecessary work gives all honest shops a bad name. With respect to transmission fluid flushing, Toyota is pretty specific about transmission fluid and maintenance. According to the Toyota shop manual, the transmission fluid does not need changing or flushing for the life of the vehicle. It can be done, but is certainly not necessary.

Q.I am torn between getting a VW Tiguan and a Nissan Murano. I know Volkswagens are pricey to fix, but I enjoy the smooth and quiet ride of this car. I also like the look of the Nissan. Can you help me make the right decision?

A. I don' know that Volkswagens are any more expensive to fix than any other cars these days – they are all expensive. Volkswagen is in a bit of turmoil these days with an on again-off again offer from Porsche to buy or merge with the company. The Volkswagen Tiguan is a bit more compact, a little lighter, and more nimble than the Murano. The Murano offers a more contemporary look, and if you are considering towing a trailer, is better able to handle the extra weight. With the choice of a car being such a personal issue, buy the car you like to drive.

Q. I have a 2001 Ford Taurus sedan that has a broken rear spring. How often do these break and how much should it cost to repair?

A. Springs, front or rear, should never break, but they do. Ford has had some problems with front springs breaking due to corrosion and issued a recall. The rear springs seem to be susceptible to the same problem (your e-mail is the third case this week). The springs cost about $45 each and will take 2.5 to 3 hours to replace. Once the springs are replaced, consider having the wheels aligned.

Q. I have had two air pumps replaced on my Oldsmobile and the car still has a "WOOOING"noise in the morning which lasts about 60 seconds. The mechanic who works on the car gave up, do you have any suggestions?

A. The AIR (air injection) pump on some Oldsmobiles will get contaminated with water which causes noise issues. The fix is replacing the pump as well as some of the tubing. Have your mechanic check technical service bulletin number the 04-06-04-037. At the same time, look at the various check valves for the AIR pump.

John Paul is the public affairs manager for AAA Southern New England. He can be reached at jpaul@aaasne.com.